Homemade Cranberry Vodka

Cranberry Lime Vodka


Cranberry Orange Vodka

Homemade Flavored Vodka.  The PERFECT Gift!

Homemade Flavored Vodka. The PERFECT Gift!

   Happy Holidays, Y’all!!!

So, every year  I give homemade gifts.  From Tins filled with cookies and candies, homemade canned goodies from the garden, jams and jellies, to scented bath salts and oils.  No matter what I give, one things seems clears.  There is always one favorite: ALCOHOL!

I have made different variations on Vodkas, since that seems to be the liquor that really mixes with anything…and MY personal favorite!  Here are some other gift ideas I have done in the past and loved:

  • Pomegranate Vodka (full of Pom Ariels)
  • Bloody Kari Vodka (a KILLER Spicy Vodka for Bloody Mary’s…full of various hot peppers from the garden and garlic)
  • Rosemary Lemon Oil
  • Hot Pepper Oil with Hot and Spicy Oregano
  • Blackberry Thyme Oil

I could literally go on and on.  And that’s not even including baked goods.  I’ll save that for another day and get back to why you come here.  Vodka.  Sweet Delicious Elegant Festive Vodka.

Absolutely Lovely Gifts!

Absolutely Lovely Gifts!

There are a few steps to creating these gorgeous bottles, but they are pretty basic and simple…..just a tad time consuming.  I tended to do these in batches of 4 or so at a time, finally realizing that it is best to get somewhere comfy that you can spread out and get off your feet.  I found settling down in front of the TV and Christmas Tree and having a glass of wine or a cup of hot tea helped pass the time!  TIP: If you decide on the Hot Tea, be sure to squeeze some of that fresh orange juice into it after you have used the peel!  Delicious and a great way to use that Orange and get in a healthy kick of Vitamin C!  Ok, here are your basic steps.  Be sure to wash your bottles first in hot soapy water and let them dry completely.  I washed mine the night before and let them dry overnight.  I got mine from Ikea, but you can also get them from any craft store!  Alright, let’s get this party started:

Gather Your Ingredients and settle in!

Gather Your Ingredients and Settle In!

Resealable Glass Bottles, Cranberries, Limes, Oranges, Sharp Paring Knife, Bamboo Skewer (or poker of some sort), Citrus Zester (if you want), Sugar, Funnel.

Get Your Work Station READY!

Get Your Work Station READY!


Cranberries, Time to get Poppin’

Ok, now here’s where all your time is spent.  For EACH LITTLE CRANBERRY, YOU MUST POKE A HOLE IN IT BEFORE dropping it into the bottle.  I found the best tool for this was a bamboo skewer, but you could also use the tip of your pairing knife.  You don’t have to put it all the way through the berry, just a little POP to break the skin so the gorgeous vodka can penetrate the hard skin of the cranberry and get that vodka flavored! You can not skip this step, as the cranberries are too hard and won’t flavor the Vodka as much as you’d like.  I tried numerous ways to do this.  Find one that you like the best and stick to it.  I poked a bunch of holes and then tried to funnel them into the bottle….unsuccessful because the cranberries were too large to fit through the funnel.  Then I did it one at a time…took too long.  Finally I settled on taking 2 larger or 3 smaller cranberries and hold them between my middle finger, pointer finger and thumb for balance and use my right hand to pop the berries with my skewer.  That was I could do 2 or 3 at a time and it seemed to speed up the process.  (I found that trying to hold any more resulted in flying and rolling cranberries as I tried to drop them into the bottle!!!!)  Also, discard any cranberries that are smushy, mushy, or bad!  You do NOT want them in your beautiful bottles!  I also found that to fill up 1 bottle, it took OVER 1 bag of cranberries.  So, be prepared.  This is NOT a quick project and it took a lot more cranberries than I realized!!!  TIP: Be sure to rinse  your cranberries well.  I put them in a colander then into a glass bowl for drainage.  Also be sure to wash your limes and oranges well, as you will be using the peel and zest.  I, personally, bought organic for this reason.  I ALWAYS buy organic when I can, but especially when I am using the outer peels!




TIP: This is why I love using the Bamboo Skewer, it’s the best tool I found to pop the cranberries easily and long enough to put down into the bottle to adjust your citrus peels if need be!

Fill the bottle 1/3 full with Cranberries

Using your Pairing Knife, carefully cut some of the peel of the Lime or Orange and drop it into the bottle.

Repeat about 4-6 times depending on the size of your peels.

Using your skewer, adjust peels to look pretty!

You can also add swirls of zest here if you have  a zester!

Fill up bottle with more Cranberries until 2/3 Full.

Repeat Previous Steps Adding Peels and Zest.

Fill with Cranberries to the Top!


Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go   Down!

Bottles Full and Ready for some Sugar!

Bottles Full and Ready for some Sugar!

Using your Funnel, Fill each bottle with a spoonful of sugar to sweeten it just a little.

TIP:  Fill your ready bottles with sugar first before you move to the Vodka (the funnel won’t get wet and have the sugar stick!)

Simply Gorgeous

Simply Gorgeous, I just had to share this pic!

I know some of these are hard to see in front of the tree, but they just looked so pretty I had to share.  Here are some pics I took a few days before when I did 2 bottles in the Kitchen.  They are easier to show what I am saying:

Both Have Sugar Added

Both Have Sugar Added

Bottle on Left has Vodka Added.  Bottle on Right has Sugar.

Bottle on Left has Vodka Added. Bottle on Right has Sugar.

Both Bottles DONE!

Both Bottles DONE!

When you fill your bottles with Vodka, be sure to fill it all the way to the top!!!

Then Seal Bottles with Stopper and Shake/Tip Over a few times to help the Sugar Dissolve.  TIP:  You want to go give it a shake every day or so to make sure there is no sugar settling at the bottom.  These will keep for a few weeks to months!  Be sure to do them a few weeks ahead of time so the Vodka has sufficient time to absorb all the yummy flavor!!!

You can see where the Vodka has

You can see where the Vodka has absorbed and needs a topping off!

 Some of the Vodka will steep into the Cranberries and you will have to “top of the bottle” with Vodka again the next day… and possibly one more time after that as well.  TIP: You want to be sure your cranberries are covered at all times so they won’t be likely to mold!!!

The bottles in front are in need of a Second Topping off!

The bottles in front are in need of a Second Topping off!

Again, don’t let any of those cranberries be uncovered!!!

Just Give Em a Quick Vodka Topper!

Just Give Em a Quick Vodka Topper!

Tis the Season!

Tis the Season!

Tie with beautiful ribbon and add  a sweet note.

For a Festive Drink: Mix with Soda Water, Sprite, Lemonade, Cranberry Ginger-ale, or Simply on the Rocks!

Or Make a Festive Holiday Martini!!!!

Waste Not, Want Not TIP: Use all the leftover fruit to make Flavored Water!


Happy Holidays from Hotcookin’

eat.drink.be Kari



Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars with Chia Seeds

Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars with Chia Seeds20130923-170445.jpg

Do these look delicious or what?!? Chocolatey, Moist & At Least A Little Bit Healthy.  Umm…….Yes, Please!


They key to these Bars are:


1. Chop your own GOOD QUALITY Bittersweet Chocolate








3. Let Bars COOL COMPLETELY before cutting (Yes, this is gonna be difficult!!!)

Here's How to Make These Bad Boys

Here’s How to Make These Bad Boys


Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars with Chia Seeds

3/4 cup Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Organic Sugar
3/4 cup Organic Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 cups Organic Rolled Oats
2 Eggs
1/2  tsp Organic Cinnamon (Saigon or Ceylon)
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 tspMadagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste(to DIE FOR!!!) OR Substitute 2 T Good Quality Vanilla Extract
2 T Organic Chia Seeds
1 cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks..maybe a tad over 1 cup!

Preheat Oven to 325.  (between 300 and 350 depending on your oven and pan size).

Line Pan with Parchment Paper (8×8, 9×9, 9×13 depending how thick you want your bars)

Cream Butter and Sugars until LIGHT AND FLUFFY.

Add in Eggs ONE AT A TIME.  Mix In Completely Each Time!

In Separate Bowl Combine Dry Ingredients: Flour, Oats, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Cinnamon, Salt.

Mix Dry Ingredients into Wet Ingredients bit by bit.  Lightly Mix to combine.

Now, Switch to a Spatula!

Fold In Chocolate Chunks, Vanilla Bean Paste & Chia Seeds


Fold In LIghtly

Lightly Stir

Mix to Combine and Press into Prepared Pan.

Bake 15-25 Minutes until the top and edges are turning a golden brown.

COOL COMPLETELY before slicing into squares.  I know, this is hard to resist….it smells so good….Oh, what the heck!??!?!  Slice off a little teeny corner for a taste.  Just don’t fear, it will crumble something awful….LET IT COOL and the texture is perfect!  But that itty bitty taste sure was good, eh?!?!?!



And, of course, as always, try and use all the highest quality ORGANIC ingredients… it will show in your end results!





Bangin’ Broccoli


This is a great way to cook Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy, asparagus, etc

This is a great way to cook Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy, Asparagus, etc

Banging Broccoli

Preheat Oven 500°.  Make sure rack is on the bottom,  lowest position.  Put a large non-stick baking sheet into the oven to preheat.

Take a couple of heads of Broccoli.  Wash and peel outer stem (knife or veggie peeler).

Cut Head into Florets.

 Cut Stalk into long strips, trying to cut a flat side to lay flat-side-down on hot baking sheet.

Toss Florets and Stalks with 2-3 Tablespoons EVOO to coat evenly.

Season with 1/2 tsp salt Pink Sea Salt and 1/2 tsp Sugar.

Rub it in, Rub it in!!!! (seriously, get int there with your hands and give the broccoli and little massage and make sure its all got a nice even coating)

Get out Baking Sheet, CAREFULLY!  It should be super hot!

VERY QUICKLY transfer Broccoli to baking sheet making sure the flattest side is face down, touching the baking sheet.


When you get it out the bottom should be blackened and top just crisp.

I left this one in a min too long….but it was still delish!!!


Squeeze fresh lemon overtop before serving!





You can use tons of different veggies, and cook them the same way.  Just  don’t leave out the sugar!!! The sugar helps with the caramelization process.  You can always simply change up the taste by experimenting with different ingredients.



Here are some ideas!

SUGAR SWITCH:  Brown Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Honey, Agave

SALT SWITCH: Table Salt, Lemon Salt, Sea Salt, Smoked Salt, Garlic Salt

FLAVOR BOOST: Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder, Italian Seasoning, Cinnamon, Cayenne, WHOLE GARLIC CLOVES

Here are a few of my Favorite Oils to use!

*Example: Roasted Brussel Sprouts tossed in EVOO, Brown Sugar, Lemon Salt & Crushed Red Pepper Flakes